Today I volunteered to go out with the US Forest Service to help do some things in the forest. It was great to get back in the woods with the Forest Service again. I saw some more new territory and some amazing scenery. What started out as a grey overcast day ended up being a beautiful, partly-cloudy day in the mountains. The area most of these pictures were taken just has the classic Montana feel to it. Look at them and you can see where the term “Big Sky Country” comes from.
My first trip to the state was in 1987-88 when I was on the road doing concert work. I remember looking out the window as we passed Little Big Horn Battlefield and I understood the Big Sky analogy that very moment. If you have ever been in that area you understand.
I thought I would share a few pictures and a video from the day. Turn down your sound as the audio is just wind noise; it was extremely windy up on top about 9500 feet above sea level. I believe the video was the area known as Ruby Valley, the view is west from where we were.
Today it was off to the pumpkin patch. It was a brisk windy day but it was fun. They had all sizes of pumpkins there, and some odd color ones too; one we got looked like a giant Honeycrisp apple. They had some that were red, and some with this weird green shade – like a lima bean green. If you zoom in on the picture, there are a few you can see.
It was on a ranch that had all sorts of animals – some you would not really expect to see except in a zoo:
The winds were horrible last night, and tonight is shaping up to be worse as the storms will be moving in. The winds were howling again and you could see rain/snow falling out of the clouds in the distance today. The winds (40-50 mph gusts) are forecast to continue a few days along with the precip – in whatever form it takes on the way down. It is going to be a rough few days weather-wise. We had some rain last night and figured it would be muddy this morning, but the ground is so dry the moisture was soaked right up and it looked like nothing ever happened.
I am finding a lot of dust from these fierce winds on everything inside the trailer. It’s so bad I am having to dust everything on a daily basis. The roof vent covers are warped from the sun and you can really hear the wind trying to get in through the gaps so I had to order some replacements. Hopefully it will cut down on the wind noise and the dust inside and maybe help the heat (or A/C) maintain more consistent temps inside. And hopefully, weather-permitting (or not), I can get them replaced since they will be here in a few days.
With the cold weather coming I need to insulate and seal things up as much as I can. I stay pretty cozy but anything to help save energy is always a good thing. I will probably have to get a heat tape or two for the tank drains. As far as the tanks, only one is exposed to the outside and that is the gray water tank so I will either have to add RV water system anti-freeze to it constantly to at least keep it slushy or add a heated pad on the bottom to keep it thawed out. The RV anti-freeze is not harmful like regular car anti-freeze so it won’t affect the system at a dump station. By doing this I can still use my bathroom and shower and not have to use a public one. From what I can tell, I think I can keep things pretty well thawed-out and usable by making a few adjustments.
One cold-weather idea I saw was people will get some bubblewrap (the small bubbles) and cut it to fit their RV windows. They then spray the inside of the windows with a mist of water and use the water to stick the bubblewrap to the window. The water evaporates, leaving the bubblewrap stuck to the window as insulation but it still lets light in. Easy to remove and replace. Very resourceful I thought and very clever. You could even add that shrink film window covering you shrink with a hairdryer over that. I don’t know if I will need to do that or not, but I am going to try to add a little weatherstripping and hopefully seal a few windows up a little tighter. I have some closed-cell foam that I think I may carve up and put in some storage areas as additional insulation to keep the cold out. I could also buy some styrofoam sheets to cut up and put in the storage areas to help insulate too. I have a few throw rugs on the floor so maybe I will just buy another one that matches and trim it down to “carpet” the whole floor.
I stopped at a place in Three Forks, MT for take-away the other day. It is in the historic Sacajawea Hotel and it is called The Sac Bar. I got this incredible burger called the Hilltop Burger and it is another one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. This is not a homestyle-burger; it is more of a gourmet burger ($14). See if this makes your taste buds pitch a tent: Montana Wagyu beef burger cooked medium, smoked onion BBQ sauce, applewood smoked bacon, Vermont white cheddar, jalapeños and crispy fried onions. All of that on an incredible bun with a side. The sauce on this burger is one of the best BBQ sauces I have ever eaten – even in any BBQ restaurant. The burger is huge – may even be a half-pound patty. This chef knows what he is doing. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend it. They have another restaurant called Pompey’s Grill that is upscale dining and that menu has some really interesting dishes on it.
I think I will get an early start tomorrow and run to the storage unit to grab that foam to insulate some compartments when I get back and also grab a few other things I need – like another blanket. After that I may go get my flu shot. I try to wait as long as possible without waiting TOO long to get it. I think I am just about at that threshold, and with the pandemic exploding even more I want to keep myself well. I thought about taking a drive tomorrow but I think these things are a bit more important to take care of with the weather that is moving in. Plus, there may be snow on the roads.
Fall is settling in and getting comfy but it is looking like we will get a little taste of winter over the weekend with some rain, cold nights (around 30° F) and maybe a few snowflakes. I cannot find my electric blanket yet but I am getting by okay between the electric heater and the propane furnace. I may need to do something different in the meantime like oh…get another blanket.
The moisture is certainly needed since the west half of the country is on fire and I am fairly certain that there won’t be many complaints from anyone around here no matter how we get precipitation. You can see the smoke in the picture above giving the sunrise that amber and orange glow – that is how the sky has looked most of the summer, but much of the time we cannot even see ANY of the three mountain ranges within view. The fields that are not irrigated are devoid of greenery and in many places it’s mostly just dirt. It’s pretty bad drought conditions.
I took a trip to the storage unit this morning and decided to drive a different route back. It was a backroad instead of the interstate. It went through farm country and it was a nice drive on a two-lane blacktop. All of the trees were really changing colors so it was a beautiful detour to take. I had been on just a few miles of this road at the far end so I had to see what was between where I was and what I had seen. I am beginning to understand more why my dad always did that.
After that last POS coffeemaker I bought and returned I treated myself to a present. My French press broke on the last trip so I spent real money and got a good coffeemaker this time. It is made by Breville and it is a Nespresso Vertuo. It will be here next week and I am so excited to try it. I think it will take up less room than the French press and coffee canister and I can store the kettle under the bench. Only thing is since it is electric I cannot boondock and use it so I may have to just switch to tea an d water on the stove when I am off-grid and that is totally fine. This one uses little recyclable aluminum pods instead of the plastic Keurig-style clogging the landfills with their convenience. They should store easier than my big ceramic canister which, somehow, has not broken yet given what it has been through on the road so far.
I am hoping it will make a cup of coffee like we had in Europe and, since I have never had an espresso, I will be trying that too. This machine spins the pod and it makes a “coffee foam” on top of the cup that looks kinda like a Guinness. It comes with a milk frother but I like my coffee straight up – nothing but the taste of coffee for me these days – so that will go into storage. Yeah, it takes some of the ritual out of the morning but I really wanted to try something a little different. They make many different roasts and flavors plus I really like the recycling part. Someone even makes a kit so you can refill the old pods so that is cool. Yep, I am excited about it!
Earlier this week I got a text from a friend I had not talked to in several months and that really brightened up the day. We both had many changes in our lives recently and texted back and forth for a long while, catching up with each other’s lives. It’s nice to hear from some of the people in your past and this person is definitely one of the ones it was really great to hear from. You know who you are! 🐶 🐕 (And, of course, if any of you want to send a message and don’t have my info just post a comment; they won’t post until I okay them and I do not post everything sent to me.)
I do have another adventure coming up soon so I will be posting about that at some point. I really hope the weather holds out a little while longer so I can get the things done that I need to take care of; I’m getting to the point where I will be having to worry more about the weather as the calendar pages flip. I’m sure that I’ll be posting about that in the future as well.
The other day I heard a banging noise outside and thought it was the horses banging the side of the barn like they do, but it had a different sound the more I listened. I looked out a window and the other dogs were staring at something from the backyard so I thought I would investigate. And just what did I see?
This is Maverick. He is a wild horse rescue who thinks he is a dog. All that banging was him climbing in the tank and playing. He stomps around a little, splashes around with his nose, then plays the fence wire with his teeth like it is a guitar string and he is Jimi Hendrix. He has such a fun personality. He always walks over to say hi and see what’s going on.
After this, the tank was moved outside the fence and just a little of it is under the fence so they can still drink but hopefully it will keep him out of it. I don’t know how, or IF, it will work or not to keep him out. Meghan’s German Shepherd Cheyenne actually does the same thing in the dog tank. 🤦♂️
Got up with the alarm this morning…only because I forgot to turn the weekly alarm schedule off. Oh well. I got up and put everything away and took off toward Newport on US 2, overt to Sandpoint, then south on US 95 to I-90. I chose this route, and backtracked a few miles to get on US 2 in a certain spot.
I did this because driving the length of US 2 across the country is a goal of mine, but now I have been on the entire route in WA and ID, as well as about a third of MT. Doesn’t matter…piecing it together or all at once. You are still driving it either way and there is no real need to cover it all again once you have done it. It saves time and fuel as well.
It was another beautiful drive and a nice day for it and a nice day for a stop at a local landmark. Nothing to do with food this time!
I have driven this highway several times and have been wanting to stop and see the Cataldo Mission, the oldest building in Idaho. With the weather being cool enough the dog waited impatiently in the car while I went in the building.
It was a really interesting building to see. There are some interesting details on how it was built and some nice interpretive signs on the grounds. I did not go in the museum (maybe when there’s no pandemic I will) and there were way too many people inside (no masks, of course) so I spent very little time looking and missed out on some of the history behind it.
We got back on the highway and continued on. There are a few other things I want to stop and see at some point but they may be closed now that summer is over.
The bad thing about travel is it usually has to end at some point. However, you can always look forward to the next trip. Being retired I don’t have to settle for one or maybe two trips a year; I can go whenever I want. I got back, parked the trailer, and settled back in. I always feel fortunate when I do get to go see and do things and I never take any of it for granted. I enjoy the experiences – big and small, good and otherwise – and I always take away something from every trip I take.
I watched a documentary called “Iconicity” on Prime that was pretty interesting. It’s quirky and not for many, but I found it interesting and it made me want to visit the places in the video. It is about art, but also about the people and lifestyles in places like Salvation Mountain/Slab City and the Salton Sea. That area has kind of fascinated me since I saw another documentary about the music scene in the Low Desert. I’ll get that way someday.
Well, it’s an early morning for me so I am done for today.
Hard to believe another summer has come and gone and it is nearly October. It certainly feels like Fall in the air now and it is a welcomed change from that 100 degree BS of not long ago. The days have been pleasant, the nights cool, but the air is still choked with smoke. A few days ago the air cleared out and it was once again clear and breathable. Too bad it only lasted the one day.
With the weather getting cooler I am having to make some adjustments in the trailer. I now have to keep an eye on the cooler temps to make sure things don’t freeze but that has only been an issue a couple of nights so far. I have been using the electric heat instead of the propane furnace but I will be digging out the electric blanket at some point when I can figure out where it is buried in the storage unit. I also put some long sleeve shirts in the trailer and put the kilt in storage but left out a pair of shorts just in case. It is that time of year when you don’t know how to dress on any given day so best be prepared for most anything. It is the mountain way of life!
Since it is getting into the time of year where travel in the northern part of the country starts shutting down, this morning I left for a campground north of Spokane, WA for possibly one of the few remaining leisure trips with the trailer this year. I did hope to get out a day or two sooner but the winds were blowing so hard that towing the trailer would be too dangerous, so between that and avoiding the weekend crowds I decided to leave today. It’s going to be about 6-7 hours of driving (adding extra time to stop for more fuel and exercise breaks).
Other than an old truck with a bumper sticker that said “You’re about to exceed the limitations of my medication” that made me laugh out loud, it was an uneventful drive and a nice day for a drive other than a little headwind. This is the first trip with the truck pulling the trailer up over a couple of fairly steep passes and it ran great. Plenty of power and the gas mileage improved even over the passes.
I have a few days here to relax and explore this area. I have not really spent much time in this area but I have been through areas west and east of here and north into Canada (too bad it’s still closed at the border) in years past. One really nice thing about being in a campground like this is your rig is pretty safe if you want to go adventure out doing some day trips. I plan on taking advantage of that every day since the forecast is not too bad for the next few days. The full utilities are certainly nice to have and come back to at the end of the day, especially having electricity on these cold nights. I do like the solitude of boondocking, though.
I got here right at the tail-end of the open season for the campground here. I believe they said this coming weekend is it for the year so I lucked out. It is in a really nice setting – lots of trees and a lake nearby that we will go check out at some point.
Tomorrow I am probably going to go back south to check out stuff around the cities plus I am on a food mission. I have never stopped here for more than a night in a hotel or the trailer and I thought this would be a good opportunity to see some of this area and not be rushed of crushed by tourists. It is a pretty area with lots of trees and Lake Coeur d’Alene is beautiful.
Tonight, however, it’s time to do some stir-fry noodles in the wok and relax with a beverage.